Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos were all contemporaries (see Isa. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Amos 1:1). The time was just prior to the Assyrian attacks on the northern kingdom. It was a time when the Lord was fed up with the wickedness of the Israelites.
"Amos, who was from Tekoa in Judah, was active as a prophet in Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (783-745 BCE). In the half century before Amos's ministry began, Israel had known great material prosperity. Unfortunately, both social and religious corruption had also become rampant during this time. The number of both wealthy and impoverished citizens had increased greatly, as had the practice of morally bankrupt worship.
"Amos was concerned that the Israelites did not take their election as God's chosen people seriously enough. They thought that because God had chosen them, their worship could be superficial and they could engage in destructive social relationships. Without justice and righteousness in their dealings with other people, however, all their religious festivals and sacrifices to God were of absolutely no value (Amos 5:21-24). The quality of one's relationship to God, Amos stated, depended upon how one treated other members of the community (Amos 2:6-8). But the Israelites had failed miserably in this regard: they denied legal rights to the afflicted; they oppressed the poor and needy; they took bribes; and they lived in luxurious houses while others starved. And yet the Israelite people thought that it was all acceptable as long as they brought their tithes to God (Amos 4:4-5). But what good was all the worship in the world if the heart was sick? The Lord was therefore going to send an enemy from the north to punish Israel, with the hope that this would rid the people of their sickness (Amos 6:14). Amos hoped his prophecies would show Israel how dire its future was and inspire the people to repent and take their covenant with the Lord more seriously." (Barry J. Beitzel, ed., Biblica: The Bible Atlas, [Australia: Global Book Publishing, 2006], 306-307)
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
The Lord asks a great question for a wicked nation. Can Israel walk with Jehovah when there is such a strong disagreement between them? Can we walk with the Lord when we are disobedient? Can we walk with the Lord when we have a different agenda? Can we walk with the Lord unless we have become one with him according to the Lord's intercessory petition, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21)?
"How vital it is that we put our lives in harmony with those whom God has called. The ancient prophet Amos counseled the Israelites: "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3.) It should be the desire of every true Latter-day Saint to be in agreement with the prophets of our day and walk in harmony with them." (Walk in Harmony, LDS Church News, 1993, 10/09/93)
Gerald N. Lund
The Lord to all of Israel: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). That is a question that could be asked of every married couple, of priesthood quorums, or of corporate executives. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 44)
JST Amos 3:6 shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not known it?
It is written in the Scriptures, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Is there an evil thing upon the earth that he does not fully understand? There is not. The Psalmist very beautifully illustrates this idea-"Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." The Lord understands the evil and the good; why should we not likewise understand them? We should. Why? To know how to choose the good and refuse the evil; which we cannot do, unless we understand the evil as well as the good...
Refuse evil, choose good, hate iniquity, love truth. All this our fathers have done before us; I do not particularly mean father Adam, or his Father; I do not particularly mean Abraham, or Moses, the Prophets, or Apostles, but I mean our fathers who have been exalted for millions of years previous to Adam's time. They have all passed through the same ordeals we are now passing through, and have searched all things, even to the depths of hell. (Journal of Discourses, 9:242-243)
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets
In Amos' day, the people made gods of gold and silver. In the latter day, so called Christians made a god without "body, parts, or passions." Specifically, this latter-day idol worship created a god without a mouth, tongue, throat, or voicebox-a god who could rule the universe but who could not speak. When they created this voiceless idol, they forgot the implications of Amos' prophecy. If God can't speak, if he can't say anything to man, if he can't reveal his secrets to his servants, then he "will do nothing." Indeed, he can't do anything, according to Amos, without letting his prophets know what he is up to. According to Amos, the doctrine of "no prophets" really paralyzes god. As John Taylor noted, "Sectarians profess to believe in the Bible, but they will not let the Lord have any Prophets." (Journal of Discourses, 6:168)
"The improbability of a mute God was... expressed by the fiery preacher Jonathan Edwards: 'It seems to me an... unreasonable thing, to suppose that there should be a god... that has so much concern [for us]... and yet that he should never speak... that there should be no word [from him]." (Tad R. Callister, The Inevitable Apostasy, 77)
Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke eloquently to the greatest Christian minds of his time at the Harvard Divinity School:
"It is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater [for] new revelation than now. The doctrine of inspiration is lost... Miracles, prophecy... the holy life, exist as ancient history [only]... Men have come to speak of... revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead... It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake." (Tad R. Callister, The Inevitable Apostasy, 77)
Perhaps we should stop picking on 19th Century Christianity. What about Judaism? Many Jews believe there have been no prophets since Malachi.
"Malachi stands at the end of the prophetic books in the Tanakh, and tradition held that after him prophecy ceased in Israel. He thus represents a watershed in the development of Judaism: until then, God would speak to selected individuals and charge them with a mission to exhort and predict. But from then on, humans and not God would identify the truth. They would be called soferim (scribes) at first, because they belonged to those who guarded the literary tradition of the people, and later were known as rabbanim (rabbis), whose primary function was to teach and elucidate God's law." (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Prophets/Latter_Prophets/The_12_Minor_Prophets/Haggai_Zechariah_Malachi.shtml)
Muslims believe there have been no prophets since Mohammad; he is referred to as the "Last Prophet" or the "Seal of the Prophets."
"Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet and messenger of God. By way of clarification it should be stated immediately that in Islam the role of a prophet or a messenger is far more important than in Christianity. Both the Old and the New Testament speak of prophets who have a very minor role in the community (2 Kings 2:15, 1 Cor 12:10, Acts 13:1 etc.). In Islam, however, a prophet or a messenger expresses the will of God for a nation or all humankind. The message delivered by him is binding on those to whom it is sent and a rejection of him is a rejection of God." (http://www.themodernreligion.com/prophet/prophet_last-shafaat.html)
For 19th Christianity, the prophets were dead. They were a thing of the past with no suggestion that anymore should come. Joseph Smith changed that theology. Modern Christianity would never credit Joseph Smith for changing their theology. Never would they admit they had been influenced by the teachings of Mormon missionaries. But in reality, Joseph Smith has changed the theology of Modern Christianity. No longer do they teach that revelations has ceased. Now, they teach that the Holy Spirit can communicate with man, that revelation can come to the individual, and that there can be individual inspiration outside the Bible. How did their doctrine change? Their theologians must have been influenced by the compelling biblical arguments of the latter-day saints.
Joseph F. Smith
It is not presumptuous, nor is it unreasonable or inconsistent... for us to claim that we have received revelation from God, that the Almighty has spoken to the children of men with His own voice and by the voice of angels and ministering spirits, or personages whom He has sent to reveal His will to man. For it is in this way that God has ever revealed Himself to the nations of the earth. He calls a Prophet now and a Prophet hereafter, and He reveals himself to His servants the Prophets, and He makes known His will unto them, and it becomes their duty to proclaim the law and the will of the Almighty to the inhabitants of the earth, and to call others to the ministry, sending them forth that they may proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors and associates; and so the work of God has to work its way, spread and increase among the children of men. (Journal of Discourses, 22:42-43)
Mark E. Petersen
The Church of Jesus Christ, then, should always be led by living apostles and prophets who would receive the constant guidance of heaven. They would continue always in the Church as seers and revelators for the people...
The prophets of the early Christian church ministered in their day just as the Old Testament prophets did during the preceding centuries. And why? Because they followed this same divine pattern, for as Amos explained, the Lord works only through prophets. (Amos 3:7.)
When there are no prophets, there is no divine direction, and without such guidance the people walk in darkness.
It is an infallible sign of the true church that it has in it divinely chosen, living prophets to guide it, men who receive current revelation from God and whose recorded works become new scripture.
It is an infallible sign of the true church also that it will produce new and additional scripture arising out of the ministrations of those prophets. This unfailing pattern of God is clearly made manifest through his dealings with his people from the beginning. ("Evidence of Things Not Seen," Ensign, May 1978, 62)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church... is the only Christian church that does to depend entirely upon the Bible for its teachings. Had all the bibles in the world been destroyed, the doctrines and teachings of the Church would have been found to conform to Bible teachings, since they were received by direct revelation from God. (Marvelous Work and a Wonder, 1)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Could any people have a greater blessing than to have standing at their head one who receives and teaches the will of God concerning them? We need not look far in the world to know that the wisdom of the wise has perished and that the understanding of the prudent has come to naught. (See D&C 76:9.) That wisdom for which the world should seek is the wisdom which comes from God. The only understanding that will save the world is divine understanding.
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.)
It was so in the days of Amos and in all the years when men of God spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. (See 2 Pet. 1:21.) Those ancient prophets not only warned of things to come but, more important, became the revealers of truth to people. It was they who pointed the way men should live if they were to be happy and find peace in their lives.
I think of a young man I know who, as a Christian, trying one church after another, could find none that taught of a modern prophet. Among the Jewish people he found reverent mention of prophets, and so he accepted and embraced the Jewish religion.
In the summer of 1964, he went to New York City and visited the World's Fair. He entered the Mormon Pavilion and saw pictures of the prophets of the Old Testament. His heart warmed within him as he heard the missionaries speak with appreciation of these great men of ages past through whom Jehovah revealed his will. Then, as he progressed through the pavilion, he heard of modern prophets-of Joseph Smith, who was called a prophet, a seer, and a revelator. Something stirred within him. His spirit responded to the testimony of the missionaries.
He was baptized. He served a mission in South America. He returned home and has since become the means of bringing his family and others into the Church. It is heartwarming to hear him testify that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God and that all who have succeeded him have been legal successors in this high and sacred calling. ("We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet," Ensign, Sept. 1991, 4)
Henry B. Eyring
Because our Father loves his children, he will not leave us to guess about what matters most in this life concerning where our attention could bring happiness or our indifference could bring sadness. Sometimes he will tell a person such things directly, by inspiration. But he will, in addition, tell us these important matters through his servants. In the words of the prophet Amos, recorded long ago, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). He does this so that even those who cannot feel inspiration can know, if they will only listen, that they have been told the truth and been warned. ("The Family," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 10)
Amos 3:11 An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee
"Special siege techniques, which were developed in the mid second millennium B.C.E., were often employed by the Assyrians. A ramp of piled up earth was used to gain access to the upper walls of an enemy city or fortress. A battering ram was then used to smash down gateways. However, the Assyrians acknowledged that many of their sieges were very long; Israelite Samaria took nearly three years to conquer." (Barry J. Beitzel, ed., Biblica: The Bible Atlas, [Australia: Global Book Publishing, 2006], 319)
(Barry J. Beitzel, ed., Biblica: The Bible Atlas, [Australia: Global Book Publishing, 2006], 319)